It is 88 degrees here today. The 19th of March. I can hardly believe it, since we usually still have a three foot snowpack, but here are the daffodils budding. Last night I planted arugula and sugar snap peas: the back of the packet said to plant as early as ground can be worked, and so it is, and so I did. Skeptical neighbors are predicting an Easter blizzard with this odd weather, but today is sunny and beautiful , so I figure we should just enjoy the day.
Yesterday I was checking the vegetables I had on hand, laying them out on the kitchen counter. Looking at the colorful peppers and leeks, scallions, celery, and mushrooms, and two shallots, I was reminded suddenly of a French vegetable side dish "legumes a la Grecque" that I used to make . Prepared vegetables are simmered in a fennel-scented court bouillon, removed to a platter, then the broth is reduced and poured over the vegetables and served as a composed salad, or simply as a side. The vegetables are cooked just enough to be wilted and soft - a nice change from so many raw salads I have these days.
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1
2 cups water
6 T. olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 t. kosher salt
2 T. minced shallots
about 2 T. parsley stems ( they have the most flavor)
1/2 t. fennel seeds
1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped
1/2 t. thyme
a few coriander seeds, or a pinch of ground coriander
a few grindings of pepper
Simmer the herbs , shallots, and celery in the water and olive oil and simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and let sit another 10 minutes, then strain the court bouillon into a bowl. Rinse out the saucepan, and return the strained broth to the pot and bring to a simmer again. Add:
8 mushrooms, quartered
2 cups sliced colorful peppers
3 scallions, cut into 3 inch lengths
3 leek whites, halved
1-2 sticks celery, cut in 3 inch lengths
(This was what I had available, but feel free to improvise with fennel bulbs, artichoke hearts, endive, onions, and cucumbers)
Simmer the vegetables for 10 minutes in the broth, then use a slotted spoon to carefully lift the vegetables out and place on a small platter.
Simmer the remaining broth until it is reduced to about 1/3 cup, then pour over the cooked vegetables.
Serve at room temperature.
Hope you're enjoying your day, wherever you are!